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Infectious Diseases Still Major Public Health Issue, CDC Says


Medscape Medial News
By Veronica Hackethal, MD

Infectious diseases continue to pose "substantial challenges" to US public health, despite efforts and advances in control, according to a report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published online July 2 in the Lancet.

The second in a new CDC series about the health of Americans, the report describes the following priority areas.

Endemic Diseases
Endemic diseases affect millions of Americans, with racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately affected. High-burden diseases include 

Chronic hepatitis: 75% of chronic hepatitis C virus cases and hepatitis C virus deaths occur among baby boomers. 

HIV: Incidence has remained stable. People in urban areas, blacks, Latinos, and men who have sex with men (MSM) remain most affected. New infections have climbed among young MSM. About 16% of HIV-positive people are unaware of their status, and 75% of HIV-positive people are not virally suppressed. 

Sexually transmitted infections: About half occur in young people. Rates of gonorrhoea and chlamydia are highest among blacks. Syphilis rates are rising, especially among young MSM. Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea remains particularly concerning. 

Tuberculosis: Although at "record lows," tuberculosis disproportionately affects foreign-born individuals, minorities, drug users, and the homeless, with an estimated 11 million cases of latent tuberculosis.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
An estimated 20 million vaccine-preventable illnesses, causing more than 40,000 deaths, could be avoided if each birth cohort received proper childhood immunizations, the authors point out. Gains have been made in combatting pneumococcus and rotavirus.

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